Join Larry Crane for an in-depth discussion in this video Repair bad kick with the Pro Tools Multiband Splitter, part of Music Production Secrets.
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- [Voiceover] I get sent a lot of drum tracks to mix that have been recorded under what you might call less than ideal situations. One of the tricks I'll use to control and bring some life back to these tracks is to set up a multiband splitter. I used to do this in the analog realm with a cheap crossover where I could split the frequencies in the low, middle, and high, but now there are some great plug-ins, like Pro Tools Multiband Splitter. Here are some drums I recorded, and I tried to make them as bad as possible. I recorded them really poorly with some really bad mics. (drums play) And you'll notice the kick drum...
(drums play) doesn't really have a lot of lows, has a lot of ambient, inside-of-the-shell sound and comes across pretty poorly. That was quite intentional. So go to the Plug-In folder, go to Other, that's where this guy lives. This comes with Pro Tools HD, but you can buy this independently as part of the Multiband Compression or Effects bundle here, and you get, basically, a four-band crossover. You can see you've got the points here where you can dial in different frequencies where crossovers happen.
And what you do, and you also can turn them off and on, you can just do a single spit or whatever you want, and then what you do is this, it's real simple. You set up four auxes here... I love doing this by the way. I didn't set up enough auxes. Let's do three more. Make sure you don't make audio tracks. Half the time I have to delete all the work I do. So, we're gonna name these. This is gonna be Kick Lo, the next one's going to be Kick Lo Mid, the next is Kick Hi Mid, and this is Kick Hi.
Then what we do is this, it's quite simple. We go to the inputs of these auxes, go to plug-in and you can see right here. Low Band... just assign them to the plug-in over there, each one in a row. Excellent. And then what seems really counterintuitive is this: take this original track and just turn it down to infinity zero, completely out of the picture. And, here we go. We're gonna check this out here with solo.
(drums play) There's the Lo, this is just where they're set right now, (drums play) Here's the Lo Mid, (drums play) Hi Mid, (drums play) And... (drums play) really clicky Highs up there. So what's great about this is we can start disassembling and rebuilding this track. Sometimes it quite simple: just find out what you want on each band, what part of the energy. What I'm gonna look for here are some real lows that I can help boost. (drums play) Not the pingy part.
Right there. Okay, so that crossover's gonna work right there. The next guy, I wanna get like a little bit of a thud. (drums play) Kind of a mid-rangey thud. That's gonna be reduced a bit more than the other ones. (drums play) Okay, here's some of our tap, or maybe it's just the garbage. (drums play) This kind of garbage frequency, let's just call it that. (laughs) And then we're gonna have some tap in this one.
(drums play) There's our high articulation. So even at the very beginning you can start just using this like it's a graphic equalizer or something. Now check this out. (drums play) Oop, let's take these guys out. (drums play) (keyboard clicks) And then, (drums play) I mean listen to how different that is than this.
(drums play) (keyboard clicks) I call that control. And then the next thing I'll do is, especially with this low band, let's go and put some compression on there. (drums play) You gotta push these kinda hard, because the signals are getting quite low in volume, you've broken this band up into four components, so you, basically you have, in most cases, like a quarter, or half, or less of the energy, so you gotta push your compressor inputs.
(drums play) Tighten this up. What that's gonna do for you there is it's always gonna keep that low end component at a certain level, and that's really gonna help beef up this drum. Let's just do this real quick, we're gonna slap these on every one of those, and then check them out. (drums play) (keyboard clicks) Also with this, that's kind of an offending frequency more so we're gonna keep that in check. (drums play) Here's the garbage frequency.
(drums play) And keep evening all these out in different ways, And then the ticky tacky guy up there. (drums play) You really gotta push that, there's hardly energy behind that. (drums play) And then one last, almost crazy thing. I really don't like that, I call that the garbage frequency, so we're actually gonna EQ, and this might sound crazy.
We're gonna try to EQ the garbage frequency a little bit. Actually let's do, instead of a one-band, let's do a seven-band, and let's work it like a band pass. So we're gonna turn these guys on, turn all these other guys off, and we're just gonna come in from the top, the highs and the lows, and just dial in a little bit cleaner sound. (drums play) Let's get steeper curves here. (drums play) (keyboard clicks) You'll get a little trash in there, in a better way, it's a better sounding trash.
More ambience, (drums play) Less ambience. (drums play) And look how much control you've just gained over this sound. Let's go back and hear that original again, just to remember. (drums play) No lows, kinda hollow. (keyboard clicks) (drums play) Massive amount of lows. You've gotta be careful with that. And you've just cleaned it all up. You can really sculpt it in different ways just by moving these faders around, and putting that back into a full mix of a song is gonna give you a whole lot of control.
This is a great technique. You can do this in the hardware realm, with a crossover, you can do this with EQs and splitting up bands, but the Multiband Splitter makes this so easy, so quick, keeps things in phase, and works really great.
These tutorials work with any DAW, in almost every recording scenario, and are based on Larry's 20+ years of experience recording, producing, and mixing some of the world's best musicians, including Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, She & Him, Jolie Holland, and Stephen Malkmus. Tune in every week for another tip.